Being thankful for the bad times has always struck me as one of those concepts that sounds much better than it plays out in reality. Is it even possible, in the midst of the crisis, to recognize the fact that some day you will look back on this phase of your life and be glad you went through this challenging time?
Try. It’s absolutely true.
This concept came up quite a bit when we were launching Work Her Way, because the last thing we wanted to do was add to the chorus of unhelpful “advice” and uninspiring platitudes that flood our media during a time of crisis.
It appeared to me that too many people were putting a rosy, positive spin on some tough subjects, like the recession and what it means to people who were just beginning to look at different ways to fit work into their lives. The sunshine-y themes of most mainstream media seemed to imply that all you need is “a makeover and a positive attitude!” and success will come. It left people feeling even more discouraged to be facing layoffs and other troubles.
We should tell the success stories, but they have to portray the reality, which is that it takes an unbelievable amount of work to make things happen in your career these days. Bear in mind that when you read about actual success stories, they almost always include some failures and missteps along the way. WHW Expert Christopher Flett wrote on his own inspiring (and, warning: profane) blog about how many times he has had a certain body part handed to him in business, and how that never once resulted in giving up. Fail, yes. Quit? Not even an option.
That is the kind of success we should be talking about. When the bad things lead to better times, you will understand that it was worth it. A great example is the growing trend toward entrepreneurship.
I’ve spoken with many a woman over the years who has had an idea for a great business brewing in her head. An idea that they never went anywhere with, because they were too afraid to leave the comfort and security of their salary and benefits.
Well, now those “secure” jobs don’t seem so secure any more. People who have been laid off, or simply need extra money on the side, are taking that great idea in their head and turning it into a reality.
Let’s be clear: layoffs are absolute hell, and so are financial problems. However, there are women who actually got that extra push they needed from tough times. Without the bad experience, they may have stayed in their safe little cubicle forever. And now they’re happier than they have ever been in their work and their lives.
Where are you headed in 2010? Getting there may involve standing up, dusting yourself off, and trying something new, but always staying in the game.
By Carolyn Kepcher is the Founder and CEO of Work Her Way